Visual Storytelling

Ikea: A Whole Mood

There are a few very divisive things in the U.S. these days… religion, politics, where you stand on Ikea… I can’t say I’ve ever seen a brand with such fervent supporters or detractors in my life. I am team Ikea. I have memories of thumbing through the Ikea catalogues in the early ’90s with my mom, a Brooklyn-born Norwegian, lusting over the simple design, the clean lines, how everything seemed to have a place.

Now as an adult, I find myself living my Ikea fantasies. I have been featured several times in the top photos for the hashtag #allikeaeverything on Instagram. You would be hard-pressed to find a piece of furniture in my home that is not Ikea at this point. It has grown with me – from the cheap particle board dressers – the best that I could afford in my first apartment, to my solid wood bed frame and night stands. I’ve upped my Ikea game in the last 20 years and that is what I love about it – they offer quality and price-point that is accessible for people of varying means and all with an eye on sustainability.

And don’t get me started on building Ikea furniture! It’s like a puzzle and at the end YOU HAVE FURNITURE! To those poor folks who would rather be dead than try to put together an Ikea bookshelf, I truly feel for you. Also, I will be happy to offer my services for a nominal fee – I’ll even shop for you! Because a day spent wandering the strange, confusing aisles of Ikea is like a tiny little vacation. As you can see… I truly love this brand. Which is strange because I can’t think of a single other brand that I feel any sort of loyalty toward.

So now you know… Ikea is a WHOLE mood for me. It is calm. It is clean lines. It is accessible. It is sustainable. It is inclusive. It is white walls and grey furniture and realistic faux plants. And for me, it is a tie to a place that I have never been, but somehow identify with in my DNA. So, when I needed to chose a website to study for emotional design and for which to create a mood board, Ikea was an obvious choice.

One thing to note is that the Ikea website is different depending on which country you’re in. I am only discussing the ikea.com main landing site and the ikea.com/US site. That said, understanding that each country served has its own website that talks to the culture represented lends to the company’s values of accessibility, representation and inclusion. While the U.S. website currently features a lot of outdoor decor and furniture to get people buying for backyard bbqs and pool parties, the Thailand site offers solutions for small apartment living.

Small space living is one of Ikea’s specialties, and the website never goes far from that ideal. Organization is key to living in a small space, and Ikea carries their company obsession with organization through to the website. This simple page uses the Gestalt principles of proximity and similarity to organize the information.

Photo cards grouped together on the main page give the user a one shot view of the options available to them. These images use similar colors and the Noto font throughout to make the user feel a sense of calm. Once you click over to the U.S. shopping page, this organization through proximity and similarity continues.

I spent some time browsing the website while thinking about my mood board. What did I feel when using the Ikea site? (Other than excitement for buying more things, of course. They do that quite well too.) Ikea is a unique brand that utilizes both a general style of clean lines, smaller furniture, and a neutral palette; and wild, vibrant colors and patterns in their seasonal or special edition product lines. For this exercise, I decided to focus on the main, lasting brand identity of Scandinavian design as that has remained relatively unchanged since the company’s inception in 1943.

The main brand colors represent those of the Swedish Flag, but while bright blue, yellow, red, and green are often seen as accent colors in Scandinavian decor (and can be seen as accent colors in Ikea decor), the colors that that are represented on their website are muted and earthy. A lot of Scandinavia design takes its cues from the natural world, and the Ikea website represents that in photos of rooms that have light colors, wood and metal furniture, plants, and naturally derived materials.

The feel of the Ikea brand combines modern and traditional, is accessible, rooted heavily in the natural world but with pops of cheerful bright colors. Ikea aims to help people create an organized, calm, and sustainable home environment. This is represented on their website through the use of clean, natural colors such as green, beige, ivory and white, as well as wood tones, which give the user a sense of calm, simplicity, and attachment to the natural world (Cao, 2015). The site also uses a sans serif font – Noto – which conveys modernity, accessibility, friendliness and innovation. Sustainability is also a priority for the company, and the use of natural colors and textures on their website helps tell that story.

Whether you love Ikea or hate it, you must admit that they are a brand with a strong identity and their website uses color and font extremely well to convey the Ikea story. And if you thought you hated Ikea, but you’re having second thoughts after hearing me evangelize it, let me know – I’m happy to take a ride down to the New Haven store and show you all the amazing things that Ikea can bring into your life!


Bonner, C. (2014, September 15). Using Gestalt Principles for Natural Interactions. Thoughtbot. https://thoughtbot.com/blog/gestalt-principles

Cao, J. (2015, April 7). Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design. TNW | Tnw. https://thenextweb.com/news/how-to-create-the-right-emotions-with-color-in-web-design

Fussell, G. (2020, May 16). The Psychology of Fonts (Fonts That Evoke Emotion). Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+. https://design.tutsplus.com/articles/the-psychology-of-fonts–cms-34943

3 thoughts on “Ikea: A Whole Mood”

  1. Speaks to German culture as well. So simple and walking through the store is def like a vacation. Well done again!

    Like

  2. “And for me, it is a tie to a place that I have never been, but somehow identify with in my DNA.”- You got me with this line.

    Like

  3. Visiting Norway and Denmark was a highlight of my life. The simple designs and connections to nature are truly a way of life

    Like

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